Joseph C. Rodríguez

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Joseph C. Rodríguez
Joseph Rodriguez.jpg  Medal of Honor U.S.Army.jpg
Joseph C. Rodríguez, Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1928-11-14)November 14, 1928
San Bernardino, California
Died November 1, 2005(2005-11-01) (aged 76)
El Paso, Texas
Place of burial Mountain View Cemetery San Bernardino, California
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1950–1980
Rank Colonel
Unit Company F, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division
Battles/wars Korean War
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

Colonel Joseph Charles Rodríguez (November 14, 1928 – November 1, 2005), born in San Bernardino, California, was a United States Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor - the United States' highest military decoration for his actions near Munye-ri, Korea during the Korean War.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Rodríguez, a Mexican-American, was raised in the town of San Bernardino where he also received his primary and secondary education. In October 1950, Rodriguez was drafted into the United States Army and ordered to report for induction in his hometown.

He received his basic training at Camp Carson in Colorado. There he was assigned to Company H, 2nd Battalion of the 196th Regimental Combat Team. Private Rodriguez completed his basic training in February 1951 and volunteered for duty in Korea. He was promoted to Private First Class and sent overseas and assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division.

Korean War[edit]

In June 1950, General Douglas MacArthur decided on an amphibious invasion of North Korea's west coast, entrusting the 1st Marine Division and the 7th Infantry Division for the mission. The division landed in Pusan and continued to drive toward the southeast to seize key terrain, and also to cut off possible enemy escape routes. On November 27, the terrain gained by the division came under heavy attack from the Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) that had intervened in the war. The enemy attack caught the 7th scattered out, with some elements as far as 250 miles apart.

On May 21, 1951, Company F was assigned the mission of occupying some high ground near the Korean village of Munye-ri. The high ground was firmly entrenched with Communist Forces, that were unwilling to give up the ground. Three times Company F attacked the ridge and three times they were thrown back.[1]

PFC Joseph C. Rodríguez was the assistant squad leader of the 2d Platoon. His squad's advance was halted by enemy hostile fire coming from 5 different emplacements. Rodriguez then took the mission upon himself of destroying these emplacements. He charged the emplacements and hurled grenades into each of the foxholes. Rodriguez destroyed the emplacements and annihilated 15 enemy soldiers. As a result, the enemy was routed and the strategic strongpoint secured. PFC. Rodriguez was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and nominated for the Medal of Honor.

On February 5, 1952, President Harry S. Truman bestowed upon Sgt. Rodríguez the Medal of Honor in a ceremony held in the Rose Garden in the White House.

Later years[edit]

After the Korean War, Rodríguez decided to make the military his career. He was assigned to the administrative staff at the ORC headquarters in San Bernardino.

On April 24, 1952, Rodríguez and his fiancée Miss Rose Aranda were the invited guests on “You Bet Your Life,” a 1950s television gameshow hosted by Groucho Marx. The following is part of the conversation between Rodriguez and Marx in the show:

Groucho: If you don’t win any money here tonight it won’t be my fault, son! Well, Joe, that’s the most amazing thing I ever heard. There’s just one thing I’d like to know – when you were running through all that lead, what were you thinking about?
Joe: Well, I wasn’t thinking – I was just mad, I guess.
Groucho: You wiped out a whole army just because you got mad? Joe...if I said anything here tonight that you resent, I was just being facetious.
Groucho: What are your plans for the future, Joe?
Joe: I hope to make a career in the Army.
Groucho: Well, I’m sure glad you’re on our side. Rose, take good care of this fella. My advice is, don’t ever make him mad – he’s liable to wipe out Los Angeles! Well, you’re a fine couple, and I’m sure you’re going to have many happy, handsome, bright, and brave children.[2]

In 1953, Rodríguez married Rose and together they had three children. He subsequently became a commissioned officer in the US Army Corps of Engineers, serving more than 30 years in the U.S., through four Latin American assignments, and unaccompanied tours in Korea and Vietnam. In 1980, Rodriguez retired from the Army with the rank of Colonel.

Rodríguez was residing with his wife, Rose, in El Paso, Texas, at the time of his retirement. He spent the next ten years as Facilities Director at the University of Texas. He dedicated much of his time of his last fifteen years to national speech engagements addressing young people and soldiers, encouraging them to pursue their education.[3]

Colonel Joseph C. Rodríguez died on November 1, 2005, in El Paso and was buried with full military honors at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, California. Rodriguez is survived by his wife Rose; his sons, Lt. Gen. Charles G. Rodriguez and Lawrence R. Rodriguez; daughter, Karen Sharp; 11 grandchildren; 10 sisters and 2 brothers.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

JOSEPH C. RODRÍGUEZ
Rank and organization: Sergeant (then Pfc.), U.S. Army, Company F, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.
Place and date:Near Munye-ri, Korea, May 21, 1951.
Entered service at:California
Born: November 14, 1928, San Bernardino, Calif.
G.O. No.: 22, February 5, 1952.
Citation:[4][5]

Sgt. Rodríguez, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an armed enemy of the United Nations. Sgt. Rodriguez, an assistant squad leader of the 2d Platoon, was participating in an attack against a fanatical hostile force occupying well-fortified positions on rugged commanding terrain, when his squad's advance was halted within approximately 60 yards by a withering barrage of automatic weapons and small-arms fire from 5 emplacements directly to the front and right and left flanks, together with grenades which the enemy rolled down the hill toward the advancing troops. Fully aware of the odds against him, Sgt. Rodriguez leaped to his feet, dashed 60 yards up the fire-swept slope, and, after lobbing grenades into the first foxhole with deadly accuracy, ran around the left flank, silenced an automatic weapon with 2 grenades and continued his whirlwind assault to the top of the peak, wiping out 2 more foxholes and then, reaching the right flank, he tossed grenades into the remaining emplacement, destroying the gun and annihilating its crew. Sgt. Rodriguez' intrepid actions exacted a toll of 15 enemy dead and, as a result of his incredible display of valor, the defense of the opposition was broken, and the enemy routed, and the strategic strongpoint secured. His unflinching courage under fire and inspirational devotion to duty reflect highest credit on himself and uphold the honored traditions of the military service.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Among Joseph C. Rodríguez's decorations and medals were the following:

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars 
Bronze star
Bronze star
Medal of Honor Purple Heart
National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars United Nations Service Medal

Badges:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.